Notes on psychotherapy
What is it and what can I expect?
Psychotherapy has been portrayed in our culture and media both positively and negatively. Often it is a little scary to imagine going to see someone you don't know and tell them all your secrets and fears. It is important to understand what psychotherapy is and what it can be helpful for.
Psychotherapy is an opportunity to talk to an objective person about your current concerns and past history as it relates to your ability to function or be happy & comfortable in your life. Although some come in with specific problems or concerns, others are not really sure why they need therapy, just that something doesn't feel right, or that things aren't going the way they thought it should. Psychotherapy isn't about pointing blame or hitting a magic button that removes all that ails you (although it would be nice if there was such a cure). Rather, sessions are an opportunity to explore your best self, uncovering what keeps you from accessing that best self and how to find safety and empowerment to express the healthiness inside of you that we are all born with.
Each one of us has an innate sense of goodness when we enter the world. We naturally feel, think and explore in a healthy process of understanding and mastering our ability to cope. We are separate but connected to the world around us. As we take in our own sense of self, we also take in how others experience us, and themselves. Our thoughts and feelings become understood in the context of others. This helps us be in the world, both by enhancing and protecting us. Some of this helps us thrive, other parts bear down on our healthy selves and we begin to doubt, deny or stuff down what we think isn't acceptable. The core sense of wonder and goodness is still inside, but sometimes trapped under the weight of experiences and judgments.
Psychotherapy is about uncovering the traps and blocks we hold deep inside us, that were once useful in protecting us and moving us forward in the world. No longer needed, these ways of coping can stop us from what we truly want - love, connection, a sense of openness and authenticity. Once we identify what is holding us back, we can begin the process of healing and empowering the healthy parts to take on an active role in our lives and move us to forward to going where we want to go. We can then authentically embrace ourselves and others around us and stop the pattern of secrecy or shame that we've take on along the way. This is the process of being alive in the present moment and accepting all the good and bad that comes with it. These are the gifts of strength, openness, love and honesty that fuel us forward both in ourselves and our relationships. This becomes a manifestation of our best selves.
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Anne front, ma, Lmft